The Conversation: Parthasarathy proposes patent policy for nonprofit, university leaders

July 19, 2017

In a July 19 piece for The Conversation, Shobita Parthasarathy encourages research universities and nonprofits to establish “intellectual property governance committees.” These committees--comprised of patent lawyers; ethicists; citizens; and experts in the history, sociology, and economics of innovation--would review patent and license applications to ensure that the scientific and technological advancements developed by tax-exempt nonprofits will better serve the public.

“The public partially underwrites nonprofit discoveries via tax breaks and isn’t seeing a lot of benefit in return,” writes Parthasarathy in “How to make sure we all benefit when nonprofits patent technologies like CRISPR.” Parthasarathy cites a number of exclusive patents, including the CRISPR license issued to Editas Medicine, that have created monopolies that have, or may, put emerging medicines and technologies out of the reach of most consumers.

“Nonprofit research institutions usually argue that any revenues they receive from their patents are reinvested in research and education,” writes Parthasarathy. “They contend this approach ensures that new technologies become widely available in the marketplace. But I argue that nonprofit institutions can and should do better.”

Parthasarathy's The Conversation piece was picked up by SF Gate.

Shobita Parthasarathy is an associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Her research focuses on governance of transformative science and technology, both in the United States and abroad. She is the author of Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care (MIT Press 2007; paperback 2012) and Patent Politics: Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe (University of Chicago Press 2017).